Still no replies... Doesn't ANYONE have tips on using racks?!
08-13-03, 9 AM EST
I've been putting off responding because I'm planning on doing reviews of the different neck racks at our Store, but it may be a while before I have time to get to it so here goes. . .
Basically, they all kinda suck. It's just a matter of which one sucks the least for you.
The cheapest one is the AXMAN. It is built of sturdy materials, but lacks a tightening wingnut on one side, so any amount of pressure makes the harmonica move away from your mouth. . . not good. . . very frustrating. I even drilled out the riveted side and put in another wingnut, but it didn't help much. Also, the harmonica is held into the tray so tightly by the springs on either side, I find it difficult to switch harmonicas quickly. I don't recommend it.
HOHNER MODELS- Both are built of sturdy materials and are relatively inexpensive, but neither one works very well.
The HH-01 is designed specifically for diatonics, but doesn't allow right to left positioning of the harmonica (the width of the tray is the same as the length of the diatonica). Therefore, you are stuck playing the harmonica in the position Hohner thinks you should play it in. I would rather move the harmonica to the right as far as possible so I can center on hole 2 draw for playing 2nd position (which is what I primarily do). Also, the angle of the harmonica to your mouth is bad. The angle should be such that you can blow the straight through the hole instead of focusing the air downward, which by default, you must do with this neck rack. The metal tubing that lines both sides of the rack CANNOT BE BENT to correct the angle for correct airflow without first heating it (I don't have the equipment to do this).
The other Hohner model, HH-154, is just plain silly. It is designed for harmonicas larger than a standard diatonic (up to 7.5"). When was the last time you saw someone with a neck rack play a harmonica that wasn't a standard 10-hole diatonic? In 25 years, I don't think I ever have. If you try to use one of these with a regular diatonic, you won't have much luck. They don't fit very well or stay in place.
The LEE OSKAR HARMONICA HOLDER is the most expensive and constructed with the flimsiest metals, but I think it's the best of the bunch. It is made specifically for standard 10-hole diatonics, but there is enough space in the tray that you are able to slide the harmonica over to the right or left by about 1 inch for better positioning when playing in the 2nd position. I was also able to bend in the thin metal bars on both sides (in towards your mouth) so that the angle of the harmonica was in a better place to focus the airflow straight through the holes. I also like the fact that the design of the tray holds the harmonica securely and leaves plenty of room to get the harmonica into your mouth for better tone production.
If a neck rack is important to you and your music, don't take my word for it, try the different ones and see what works best for you.
If you play guitar while standing and are using a strap, try putting the harmonica holder around your neck first and then put the guitar and strap over it. The guitar strap will pull the neck rack over to the right which puts the low end of the harmonica closer to your mouth and also gets the holder out of your way if your want to watch your left hand when you play (this is assuming you are a right-handed guitar player). You also don't have the harmonica right in your face when you're singing -- I like that.
(I may turn this into a "Featured Article" for the site. If I do, I'll include some photos so it's easier to follow).
Listen to CD Song Samples-